Seven has long been a number that holds much significance, from the Genesis account of creation and Sabbath rest, to the seven seals of Revelation.
2007 began with a series of lung issues stemming from battle with systemic lupus erythematosus that started for me in 1976. I became unable to work at either of the two jobs I’d held for over 10 years as a counselor/psychotherapist at Redeemer Church in Manhattan and moonlighting for Delta Airlines at LaGuardia airport. I was tethered to an oxygen concentrator that reached to the far corners of our apartment and would supply the oxygen I would need to survive for the next two and a half years.
Eventually my lungs healed and I no longer needed o2 to survive. There were a few ups and downs and some old lupus heart complications reared up in 2011 culminating in a stroke late that year and then finally a quintuple heart by-pass surgery early in 2012.
Finally, I thought, my heart was “fixed” and surely God would give me a break – but 9 months later, I was back in the hospital with another lupus lung hemorrhage – the 7th since 2007.
I was beyond tired.
My soul felt like a punching bag, that evil had been allowed to pummel at will – and just when it seemed I might get a reprieve – bam! Another set back.
In spite of all that had gone on, I never doubted that God was with me – sustaining me through so many onslaughts that left my doctors with no medical explanation for why I was still living and breathing.
One doctor stopped me as he was almost finished going over my long health history in 2011, and asked, “Are you a praying person?” I answered that, in fact, I believed prayer, and faith in God were the only reason that I was still living and breathing.I had learned many years ago from a couple of my professors at Grace Seminary that we live in a fallen world, and that bad things – catastrophic and devastating – can happen even when you are seeking after God, not because He doesn’t care, but because the prince of darkness gets to hold sway this side of heaven for a while.
God and I have had countless conversations about what He’s up to in my life, and have disagreed heartily that some of what has come my way seems too much to bear.
People have asked me how I can call God good if He has allowed so many devastating things to happen to me. I am honest about the fact that I do question God, frequently – but what He continues to bring me back to is this: If I blame God for all the suffering that He has allowed me to go through – and I have no doubt that He is in control – then evil will have won again because evil seeks to kill, steal and destroy and is responsible for sickness, suffering and death. Jesus was born so that death would die – and we might live!
2014 has become a year of jubilee of sorts for me – after 7 years of drought. My health improved enough to travel to Paris w/ my husband for a mini vacation over his break from teaching in January – our first international trip in almost 9 years!
I was able to attend the weddings of my two nephews in June and October and be with my family when my uncle passed away suddenly.
One of my oldest and dearest girlfriends was going through the devastating end of her 32 year marriage – so her son and daughter in law booked a week-long cruise to get away and do something fun for his mom, and I got to go along!
I also had the opportunity to go on two spiritual direction conferences – one in March and just got back from the second one a week before Thanksgiving. I found streams of living water for my parched and thirsty soul and was reminded that He Who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.
Had God not set Eternity in our hearts – yours and mine – we would have no hope set before us.
Cheri Mayfield is embracing life, renewed strength and daring to gain confidence that she will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. She enjoys conversations that matter, coffee, kitties and life in NYC with her husband of 21 years. She tells her story here &n